Young children always seem more likely than not to have a fascination with toy train sets. Maybe Thomas the Tank Engine/Thomas the Train has something to do with it?! They love building train sets and making the trains go around the railroad tracks. You can capitalize on this interest by having your students build and do pretend play, all the while allowing you to work on a variety of different speech and language skills with them. I’m sharing 10 skills you can focus on with toy train sets below, so keep reading to get all of my suggestions!
Where Can I Buy a Toy Train Set for My Speech Room?
There are a few different toy train sets available online. One of them is even a Melissa and Doug set, which you know is going to be really well made and high quality! All of the ones I’m suggesting below can be found on Amazon, but you might be able to find them at stores like Target, too. The links below are Amazon affiliate links for your convenience.
Melissa and Doug Take a Long Railroad (This one is great for SLPs who don’t want to assemble a railroad.)
On Track USA Figure 8 Wooden Train Set
Play-Based Speech Therapy Information
If you are wondering about how to implement play-based therapy in your sessions, check out this blog post for some tips.
Often times in my sessions, I will do a mix of direct structured therapy using a toy and then will allow time for a natural play-based activity time with the toy. This helps me get those direct trials in for certain goals and then allows me to take the child’s lead with the natural play-based time.
Toy trains are a favorite toy for many of my students, so planning therapy around motivating toys keeps students engaged in therapy. Check out 10 ways you can use a toy train set in therapy.
10 Ways to Use a Toy Train in Speech Therapy
1. Teach cause and effect by knocking the train off the track, crashing into something, stopping all of the sudden, letting go of the train to go down the hill, etc. Work on comments about what happened, joint attention, and requests to do it again.
2. Work on sequencing with first, next, and last, or tell a story with the child’s actions and then work on re-telling the sequence. Sequence the steps for a train picking up and dropping off the passengers.
3. Have the students make deliveries with the train. The students describe the items they delivered by attributes. You can also give clues to work on inferencing.
4. Work on mean length utterance and grammar structures for plural tense, present progressive, third person singular, past tense, adjectives, and prepositional phrases.
5. Work on following directions with basic concepts and prepositions. You can teach basic concepts of up/down when going up a hill on the track. Other basic concepts you can target are around, on/off, and over/under while the child has the train go over or under a bridge.
6. Use the train to work on slow/fast speech for fluency. Have the train get stuck to demonstrate blocks with stuttering.
7. Use the train to help increase articulation or phonology productions. Lay the train sideways and put cotton balls above the train as “smoke” for each production. Take the cotton balls off one by one for more productions.
8. Build a train track. Place mini trinkets or flashcards along the track. Have the train stop at each item to practice, answer a wh- question, describe, use in a sentence, etc.
9. Follow the group’s plan and flexibility with changing the social routine or play routine. One person is the conductor, and all the cabs have to follow the head train.
10. Facilitate pretend play for getting on a train, paying for a ticket, collecting the tickets, and arriving at the destination.
If you want all these ideas handy as you implement play-based therapy, you can add my toy companion cheat sheets for 18 different toys to use in therapy. There is a Spanish and English version. Many SLPs use the resource in therapy to coach staff and parents how to work on skills while playing with toys.
How Do You Use a Toy Train Set in Speech Therapy?
Do you have a fun way to engage your students with a toy train set in speech therapy? Share in the comments, tag me on Instagram @thedabblingspeechie, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
More Toy Speech Therapy Idea Blog Posts
Using toys in speech therapy can be a great way to plan for different goals and help keep your students engaged. Here are more blog posts on how you can use different toys to target lots of goals in therapy:
How to Use a Farm Toy in Speech Therapy
10 Ways to Use Play Food in Speech Therapy